Commencement Frequently Asked Questions

GENERAL

When is 2020 Spring Commencement?

The doctoral commencement will be held at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 14. Doctoral degree recipients will participate in a combined hooding and degree conferral at this ceremony, followed by a cocktail reception with their guests.

We will hold three ceremonies for associate, bachelor's, and master's graduates:

  • Saturday, May 16 (9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.)
  • Sunday, May 17 (3:30 p.m.)

Where is 2020 Spring Commencement?

The doctoral commencement will be held at the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. Get directions and all the details on the doctoral commencement information page.

The ceremonies for associate, bachelor's, and master's graduates will be held at the Xfinity Center on the campus of University of Maryland, College Park. The Xfinity Center is located at 8500 Paint Branch Drive, College Park, MD 20742, on the campus of University of Maryland, College Park. View a Google map and get directions.

Which ceremony will I attend?

If you are a candidate for the doctoral degree, you will attend the doctoral commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 14, 2020.

If you are a candidate for the associate, bachelor's, or master's degree, you may choose your preferred weekend ceremony, space permitting. (We cap attendance at each ceremony to comply with the fire code.) We are planning for 1,200 graduates at each weekend ceremony.

The RSVP system will open at the end of February 2020 for the three weekend ceremonies and in early March for the doctoral ceremony. Eligible students will receive an email containing the RSVP link. Please RSVP promptly to lock in your preferred ceremony, as reservations are made on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please confirm your preferred email address by February 15 via MyUMGC.

How long is commencement?

The doctoral commencement (and reception) will last from 5 p.m. until approximately 8 p.m.

Each weekend ceremony is expected to last two hours. Keep in mind that this time is approximate and may vary. Please plan to remain until the conclusion of the ceremony to show respect for your fellow graduates and to avoid disrupting the ceremony.

Can I walk early?

Generally, no one is allowed to walk early. While we do consider cases of extreme hardship, exceptions are rare and usually involve unfortunate circumstances. If you feel your situation justifies a hardship exception, email Commencement Services at commencement@umuc.edu.

Are graduation and commencement the same thing?

At UMGC, graduation and commencement are different.

Graduation is the act of completing all of your requirements and earning your diploma. For students in most programs, diplomas are awarded three times a year (August, December, and May) at the end of the summer, fall, and spring terms. Certain graduate students have a four-term schedule, with degrees awarded at the end of the summer, fall, winter, and spring terms.

Remember, you have to apply and pay a fee to graduate (i.e., receive your diploma). Applying to graduate does not automatically register you to attend commencement.

Commencement is the formal ceremony that celebrates you and your accomplishments. If you have applied to graduate by the appropriate deadline, we'll invite you by email to attend commencement.

Why does UMGC hold stateside commencements only in Maryland?

We proudly serve more than 90,000 students worldwide, both on-site and online. Commencement is the highlight of the academic year. It's the premier opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to meet and, most importantly, celebrate our graduates' accomplishments. Large-scale commencements at our Adelphi, Maryland, headquarters are currently the best format to include the largest group of stateside students, faculty, and staff.

How do I get permission for overseas relatives to attend commencement?

UMGC will draft a letter to the embassy of the country in which the person lives to serve as documentation for getting the necessary travel approvals.

To request this letter, email graduationserv@umuc.edu and include

  • Your name
  • Your student identification number
  • Your address
  • Your telephone number
  • Name of guest(s) and relationship to you
  • Address of guest(s)
  • Whether you wish for the letter to be sent to you or the embassy
  • Name and address of the embassy (if the letter is to be sent to the embassy)

You may also request your embassy letter via MyUMGC.

Please note that doctoral graduates are allotted 8 tickets for their guests; associate, bachelor's, and master's degree graduates are allotted 14 guest tickets. Plan accordingly.

(You may be able to claim up to four additional tickets on April 28, if any are available. Details about claiming additional tickets are provided in the commencement registration process.)

Will commencement be webcast?

The doctoral commencement on May 14 will not be webcast live. Instead, it will be recorded and archived for viewing here.

You may view the weekend ceremonies (for associate, bachelor's, and master's degree graduates) via live webcast. To access the webcasts visit umgc.edu/commencement on May 16 starting at 9 a.m.

ELIGIBILITY AND APPLYING FOR GRADUATION

Am I eligible to walk at the 2020 Adelphi Spring Commencement?

Winter term graduates who completed their degree requirements in March 2020 and spring candidates for graduation who expect to complete their requirements in May or June 2020 will be invited to participate in 2020 Adelphi Spring Commencement.

Check your eligibility status by contacting the Graduation Services Team at graduationserv@umuc.edu or 800-888-8682, ext. 2-2299.

If you're still unsure about your eligibility to walk at 2020 Spring Commencement after verifying your graduation status, e-mail Commencement Services at commencement@umuc.edu.

How do I apply for my diploma and graduation?

Remember: At UMGC, graduation and commencement are different. (Commencement is the actual ceremony.)

But applying for your diploma and applying for graduation are the same thing; both terms refer to the same administrative process.

You must apply for your diploma via MyUMGC by the appropriate deadline. Check the Graduation To-Do List for a list of deadlines. Meeting the diploma application deadline automatically puts you on the list to be invited to 2020 Spring Commencement.

Apply through the Graduation page in MyUMGC. Submit the form and pay the $50 graduation fee.

Why do I have to pay a fee to graduate?

The $50 application fee covers the administrative process of determining whether you have met all of your degree requirements. You must apply and pay this fee to have your degree conferred and receive a diploma. It is not related to commencement.

Is there a fee to participate in commencement?

No, but you should be aware that you'll need to buy a cap and gown. This academic regalia is required unless you are an active-duty servicemember planning to wear your service dress uniform.

RSVP AND REGISTRATION

Once I've applied for graduation at MyUMGC, how do I RSVP for commencement?

Associate, bachelor's, and master's degree candidates will receive an email invitation to RSVP online in late February. Doctoral candidates will receive an email invitation to RSVP online in early March.

Both email invitations will contain a link to our online commencement registration system. Follow the instructions in your RSVP email.

When can I RSVP or register for spring commencement?

Registration for associate, bachelor's, and master's degree candidates starts at the end of February. Doctoral students may RSVP starting in early March.

If you are eligible to attend commencement, you will receive an email with instructions.

To be eligible, you must have already applied for graduation via the Graduation page in MyUMGC by the appropriate deadline. If you are unsure whether you're eligible or what the deadlines are, contact the Graduation Services Team at graduationserv@umuc.edu or 800-888-8682, ext. 2-2299.

You must also ensure that your preferred email address is updated in your Profile in MyUMGC to receive communications about commencement.

What should I do if I receive an error message when registering for commencement?

The most common problems are issues with graduation eligibility or incorrect EMPLID (student identification) numbers.

First, be sure you are eligible to graduate and have applied for graduation. If you are unsure whether you're eligible, contact Graduation Services at graduationserv@umuc.edu or 800-888-8682, ext. 2-2299.

If eligibility is not the issue, make sure that you have entered your seven-digit EMPLID (student identification) number correctly. To find it, log into your profile within the student portal. Your UMGC ID card, which contains your student ID, is on the far-right side of your profile.

If you continue to have trouble registering, contact Commencement Services at commencement@umuc.edu or 240-684-2225.

REGISTRATION: CHANGE OR CANCEL

Can I change my status to "not attending" if I already registered to attend commencement but cannot participate?

Once the RSVP system opens, please email commencement@umuc.edu if you want to change your initial registration.

Can I participate in a future ceremony if I'm unable to participate in spring commencement?

We call this "walking late."

We will consider hardship exceptions for graduates who cannot participate during the commencement they are eligible for. However, please note that the winter ceremonies have a smaller seating capacity. So if you are granted an exception, you may need to wait until the next scheduled spring commencement.

If you want an exception to walk late, please send a detailed request to Commencement Services by emailing commencement@umuc.edu.

Please note that if an exception is granted, your name will appear in the online commencement program book for the year in which your degree was conferred. Because of space limitations, your name will not be published again if you walk late at a future ceremony.

Can I participate in one of the overseas ceremonies if I'm a stateside graduate but I can't attend the Adelphi commencement?

Please note that the overseas ceremonies are only held during the spring.

Inform the Graduation Services Team of the overseas ceremony you'd like to attend by emailing graduationserv@umuc.edu or call 800-888-8682 ext. 2-2299. They'll confirm your eligibility and help you coordinate with the appropriate overseas team.

May I attend the Adelphi commencement if I'm a graduate of UMGC Asia or UMGC Europe but cannot attend an overseas ceremony?

We will consider these requests on a case-by-case basis. There should be evidence of a hardship or other unique situation (e.g., military PCS move).

Please inform the UMGC Asia Commencement Team or the UMGC Europe Commencement Team that you have a hardship and would like to walk stateside. They will confirm your graduation status to ensure you are eligible to attend commencement.

Once your graduation status has been confirmed, Graduation Services will send your degree status and contact information to the stateside Commencement Services Office. If there is space available, Commencement Services will then email you detailed information about the Adelphi commencement, along with a link to RSVP online.

Can alumni attend commencement?

Alumni may attend commencement as guests of current graduates, but tickets are required. Your graduate will provide your ticket(s) out of his or her allocation of seven guest tickets.

Alumni may also volunteer to help during the ceremonies. If you wish to help at commencement as a volunteer, contact Alumni Relations at 800-888-8682, ext. 1-7140 or alumnirelations@umuc.edu.

GUEST TICKETS

Are tickets required?

Yes.

Tickets are required for guests at the College Park Marriott and at the Xfinity Center, including infants. Graduates do not need a ticket to participate.

How many guest tickets do I get?

Doctoral candidates may claim up to 8 guest tickets.

Students participating in the weekend ceremonies may claim up to 14.

Can I get additional tickets?

Graduates may donate their unwanted tickets into a pool. (Note that you cannot get your donated tickets back if you change your mind.)

The donated ticket pool will open at 9:30 a.m. (eastern time) on April 28. Log on to the e-ticketing portal just as you did to claim your initial allotment of tickets. If any tickets are available, you'll be able to claim up to four additional tickets online.

After the donated ticket pool opens, you may check it at any time, up until commencement day, to see if any additional tickets are available. Again, you may claim up to four additional tickets from this pool.

Donated tickets will be made available on a first come, first-served basis.

There is no guarantee that any additional tickets will be available.

Does my infant or toddler need a ticket?

Yes.

To meet fire codes, each guest—including infants—must have a ticket to attend.

How do the e-tickets work?

E-tickets will be scanned upon entry. You may bring a printed copy or let us scan the ticket from your mobile device.

Each ticket is unique and will only work once. Tickets cannot be duplicated or sold.

To meet fire codes, each guest—including infants—must have a ticket to attend.

PREPARE FOR COMMENCEMENT

What's a commencement fair?

A commencement fair is a convenient way for students who live in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to prepare for commencement. There, they can confirm their measurements and order caps and gowns from our regalia vendor.

Regalia will not be available for pickup at the March fair. Orders placed at the March fair will be shipped to students' homes.

Regalia ordered at the commencement-week fair in May will be available for immediate pickup.

Class rings and other commencement gear, such as diploma frames, announcements, and thank-you notes, can also be ordered. The UMGC Alumni Association will also be on hand to discuss joining the association and the benefits of your complimentary membership.

All fairs will be held at the Academic Center at Largo. Here are the times and dates:

in March

  • Saturday, March 21, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. (Family Day!)

and in May

  • Thursday, May 14, Noon–6 p.m.
  • Friday, May 15, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

If you are a graduate and can't attend a fair, don't worry. Details on how to access the same merchandise and services online will be provided when you RSVP for commencement.

Will my name appear in the commencement program?

The official 2020 Spring Commencement program book will be published online during commencement week. This digital program will include the names of eligible graduates who meet the applicable diploma application deadlines.

Graduates and their guests will be able to share and view the official program online as a digital flipbook; a downloadable PDF will also be provided.

Graduates and guests who attend a ceremony will receive a printed commemorative program containing the order of exercises, speaker biographies, and other information to help guide everyone through the celebration. Graduates' names will not be printed in this program.

After commencement, the digital program will be permanently archived on this website for viewing at any time.

Please note: If you experience hardship and are approved to attend a future commencement instead of your scheduled ceremony, your name will not be republished. Graduates' names are published according to degree conferral date, so your name only appears in the online digital program for the year in which your degree was conferred. The digital programs are permanently archived on this website for viewing at any time.

How can I update my name, postal address, or email address?

Update your postal or email address in your Profile in MyUMGC.

If your name has been legally changed, please contact Graduation Services at 240-684-2008 or graduationserv@umuc.edu. You must include your student ID number in your email.

The Graduation Services Team can also answer questions about how your name will appear on your diploma and in the commencement program book.

When will I receive details on commencement, such as which ceremony to attend and where to park?

When you RSVP online to indicate that you will attend a ceremony, you will immediately receive a confirmation email with instructions for ordering your regalia, claiming guest tickets, and other information.

In April, we will email a link so that you can record the correct pronunciation of your name (if desired) using our NameCoach service. We aim to say every name correctly; this recording will help our name readers do just that.

We will also mail a card for you to hand to the name reader as you cross the stage. This card will contain your contact information so that our photographer may follow up with you about ordering official commencement photos.

You will receive a "what to know before you go" email during commencement week with any last-minute updates, along with a helpful guide to commencement that is packed with important information for you and your guests.

We may also send periodic emails that contain specific announcements or updates about commencement.

What should I wear to commencement?

All graduates are required to wear a cap and gown to commencement. (Active-duty servicemembers may wear their service dress uniform in lieu of regalia.) We encourage you to wear appropriate business casual attire under your gown. We recommend comfortable shoes, because there will be prolonged periods of standing and walking throughout the day.

Where can I leave my belongings during the ceremony?

We are unable to provide any storage space to hold personal belongings at commencement. Please plan accordingly.

CAP AND GOWN

How can I get my cap and gown before the ceremony if I missed the deadline to order and can't pick up my regalia at a commencement fair?

Limited quantities will be available for sale on commencement day in your robing/line-up area. Our regalia vendor will be on-site to help you.

How do I get a cap and gown, and how much do a cap and gown cost?

The confirmation email you receive after you RSVP for commencement will contain the link to order your regalia.

Pricing will be posted on the vendor’s website; however, for planning, you should budget

  • Doctoral—$683 (purchase) or $86 (rental)
  • Master's—About $67
  • Bachelor's or associate—About $39

Prices above include standard ground shipping.

Other items, such as the stole of gratitude, are extra. The vendor’s website will have pictures and pricing for everything once commencement registration opens in February (March for doctoral candidates). Your RSVP confirmation email will include the ordering link.

Can I wear my military uniform?

Active-duty servicemembers are encouraged to wear their service dress uniforms at commencement!

Only the U.S. Army specifically prohibits wearing gowns over the uniform; however, UMGC asks graduates belonging to the other branches of the armed forces to follow this practice too. If you choose to wear your uniform, you are welcome to purchase a cap and gown as a souvenir, but please do not wear it over your uniform.

Do the regalia colors differ by degree?

Doctoral candidates have a separate commencement, held each May. They wear customized red regalia with black velvet facing and sleeve bars piped in gold, and a gold tassel on the tam. They also wear the traditional hoods to denote their academic discipline and UMGC's school colors.

Associate degree candidates wear gray regalia with a black tassel. Bachelor's and master's degree candidates wear black gowns and caps with a black tassel, regardless of degree. But master's degree candidates also have hoods lined with UMGC's school colors and edged in velvet colors matching their academic discipline.

You may have seen some university commencements where the graduates' tassels contain charms denoting the year. The tassel worn at UMGC's commencement does not contain the year. We prefer a more traditional look where the tassels are uniform (i.e., no charms).

If you'd like a tassel with your graduation year on it, you may purchase a souvenir tassel (which comes in our official school colors) in your robing area at commencement or when you order your regalia online. Souvenir keychains are also available.

What if my cap and gown do not arrive on time?

Remember: Ordering details will be provided when commencement registration and online regalia ordering begin in February (March for doctoral candidates).

Important for doctoral candidates: If you plan to purchase a set of regalia, you must order no later than April 1 to ensure delivery by commencement. This allows enough time for your custom doctoral regalia to be sewn.

Online regalia ordering (to include those renting doctoral regalia) closes on May 1. We cannot make exceptions to this deadline.

If you miss the May 1 deadline, you'll need to order (and pick up) at the May commencement fair, or talk with the regalia vendor at the fair to arrange pick up on commencement day. This includes last-minute rental of doctoral regalia.

Please note that we cannot guarantee exact sizing for any orders placed at the May commencement fair or on commencement day.

If you order on time but do not receive your regalia before the start of commencement week, contact Oak Hall Customer Service at 800-456-7623, or visit the Oak Hall reps at the commencement fair to get regalia there. A limited amount of regalia will also be available for sale in the robing area where you line up before your ceremony starts.

CONNECT WITH OTHER GRADUATES

How can I connect with other graduates on social media?

Use the hashtag #UMGCGrad to join the conversation on Twitter and see what's trending among your fellow graduates and alumni.

AFTER COMMENCEMENT

Do I receive my diploma at commencement?

No. You will receive a congratulatory letter from UMGC President Javier Miyares inside a diploma folder when you cross the stage.

Diplomas are mailed six to eight weeks after each conferral date; for example, if your MBA was awarded in September, your diploma should have arrived by Thanksgiving. Please update your mailing address in your Profile in MyUMGC to ensure smooth delivery of your diploma.

How can I join the UMGC Alumni Association?

For more information and to activate your free membership, visit the UMGC Alumni Association.

HONORS

As an undergraduate student, how do I determine if I am eligible for graduation honors?

UMGC provides honor cords for bachelor's degree recipients who qualify for the following academic honors: cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude. If you are eligible, Commencement Services will mail your cord to you about one month before your ceremony.

You must have at least a 3.8 grade point average and have completed at least 30 credits of graded UMGC coursework to be eligible for one of the above academic honors. For honors to be conferred with a second bachelor's degree, you must have earned at least 30 new UMGC credits and the requisite GPA. Refer to your academic catalog for official policy governing your eligibility for academic honors.

For honors eligibility questions, please contact Graduation Services at 800-888-8682 ext. 2-2299, or graduationserv@umuc.edu.

What GPA qualifies for academic honors?

Academic honors are based on cumulative GPA for coursework completed at UMGC.

  • Cum laude = 3.800 to 3.900
  • Magna cum laude = 3.901 to 3.999
  • Summa cum laude = 4.000

What are the honor cord designations?

White cords represent cum laude. Blue cords represent magna cum laude, and gold cords represent summa cum laude.

Will my undergraduate academic honors be read at the ceremony?

Yes. You will be mailed a preprinted card in late April with your name and honors designation. Be sure to bring this card with you so that your name and honors can be read as you cross the stage. If you don't, your honors may not be announced at the ceremony.

What if the honors on my preprinted card are wrong?

Undergraduate honors for the spring ceremonies are initially determined in April; however, sometimes there is pending coursework that changes your GPA after your card is printed.

Do not make any changes to your card. Instead, bring the card to commencement and speak with our Graduation Services Team members in your robing area. They will verify your honors, provide a new honor cord, and change your card if appropriate.

Handwritten honors will not be read, so remember, do not change the card yourself.

How do I get an honor cord, sash, or stole from the honor society to which I belong?

We do not provide honor cords or other accessories for honor societies. Graduates who believe they should receive an honor cord from a specific honor society should contact the organization directly.

Contact your honor society at least one month prior to your ceremony to ensure timely delivery of any cords or other accessories you are entitled to wear.